, Volume 76, Issue 6, pp 429-435
Date: 23 May 2014

Management of Acute Diverticulitis and its Complications

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Abstract

Colonic diverticular disease is a common condition, and around a quarter of people affected by it will experience acute symptoms at some time. The most common presentation is uncomplicated acute diverticulitis that can be managed conservatively with bowel rest and antibiotics. However, some patients will present with diverticular abscesses or purulent or faeculent peritonitis due to perforated diverticular disease. Whilst most mesocolic abscesses can be managed with percutaneous drainage alone, pelvic abscesses are associated with a higher rate of future complications and usually require percutaneous drainage followed by interval sigmoid resection. Patients who require emergency surgery for complicated acute diverticulitis most commonly undergo a Hartmann’s procedure, although resection with primary anastomosis and laparoscopic peritoneal lavage have emerged as alternative treatment options for patients with purulent peritonitis in recent years. However, robust evidence from randomized trials is lacking for these alternative procedures, and the studies that have reported good outcomes from them have included carefully selected patient groups. There has been a move away from recommending elective prophylactic colectomy after two episodes of acute diverticulitis in the light of evidence that most patients will not experience a significant recurrence of their symptoms; elective surgery is indicated for those with ongoing symptoms, pelvic abscesses, complications—such as fistulating disease, strictures or recurrent diverticular bleeding—and those who are at high risk of perforation during future episodes, for example, due to immunosuppression, chronic renal failure or collagen-vascular diseases.